The Pinsents vacation placement totally exceeded my expectations! It was my first summer placement so I wasn't sure what to expect - I never thought it would fly by so quickly or that I'd have so much fun. As well being given a range of exciting work to do, there were so many social events to attend and I feel like I really got to know a lot of people from the office.
Very - everyone made me feel so welcome and I really felt part of the team dynamic. I think being in one seat for three weeks is perfect in terms of actually getting to know people as well as being able to engage in real work which could well span the course of the whole placement. As an example, one of the tasks I did involved researching and writing an advice letter to a client - once I had completed the task and sent it back to the senior associate, he later BCCd me in on a mail to the client, and had used my letter!
I was assigned a trainee buddy and two supervisors (a solicitor and senior associate) at the start of the placement, and they made sure to introduce me to everyone and encourage them to ask for my help if needed. The whole set up was very informal and I was able to run with tasks on my own which was great, but I also felt completely comfortable asking for help if I wasn't sure on something.
The placement has allowed me to develop both legal and 'real-life' skills. It's been invaluable learning about what actually goes on inside a big commercial law firm and what work lawyers actually do - I think that's something that seems very obscure during university. As well as completing real legal tasks, and seeing my work being used (eg in emails to clients), I also felt like I benefitted from spending three weeks in an office and how to act in a professional setting.
I wouldn't say the placement was very structured at all, but I also don't think it could, or should, be. Apart from the two insight days at the beginning and various social events, the placement very much involves real work in a real office and so I think you just have to go and get stuck in with what your team is doing during your time there. The social events planned were brilliant and it was great being able to spend time with everyone from the office in an informal setting.
The general atmosphere was great - I really got on with the other VP placements and my team, as well as the wider office. I was able to spend a lot of time with the other VP students and the trainees, and have met very close friends this way. Also, the office is quite open plan and you always bump into someone in the kitchen so it's nice being able to have little chats with people from all different teams.
The placement didn't involve any 'training' as such, but the value came in the form of the interaction with (and support from) the team - I received exposure to a range of work and worked alongside senior associates etc. The firm also invested heavily in social events throughout our placement which provided great social opportunities.
The placement has really strengthened my understanding of all kinds of positions within the firm - I sat at the same desk in my team for the whole placement so was right in the middle of what was going on throughout the whole team. I made sure to arrange chats with people from all different levels in the firm (ie trainees, solicitors, senior associates, partners) to learn more about what they do/their past experiences and that was very valuable.
The insight allows you to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the firm, both 'office life' and 'social life' wise. Although I didn't know what to expect from the placement, I did have an expectation as to the culture of the firm, and it was exactly as I'd hoped - everyone was so friendly and VP students are given the chance to socialise with everyone.
The placement has been hugely valuable for me - I started it being unsure on even wanting to pursue a legal career, but now, as well as being excited by the thought of a legal career, I also have a clearer idea of specific practice areas I'd like to go into. I would really recommend speaking to people from different teams throughout the firm as you might find you have an interest in something you had never even heard of before starting.
The vacation placement is paid generously - £325 per week in the Scottish/English regional offices and £375 per week in London. The firm doesn't reimburse for costs of commuting to work, but they do cover costs of travel required during working hours - eg we were reimbursed for having to go to Glasgow on our induction day and if we had to go to another office during working hours the fares were paid by someone in the team.
Although there weren't lots of networking events organised during the placement, I don't think it mattered, nor would it be practical to expect people from the firm to attend networking events to meet VP students they might never see again. I think the most important relationships to form are those with the trainees and people in your team, and there is plenty opportunity to get to know them on your own initiative. One thing the trainees think could be improved, however, is integration between offices as well as between departments within offices (eg they say they hardly ever come across people from other teams - especially those situated on different floors).
The social events were so much fun - during my placement I attended: a networking lunch, welcome drinks, a welcome lunch with the trainees, the Edinburgh office's summer party (BBQ, drinks and night out), a three-course dinner and pub quiz and leaving drinks and nibbles! The events were such a good opportunity to get to know people at the beginning, and then after that they were just so fun to spend time with the people you had met.
On our insight day we were told about an array of opportunities to get involved with outside work, from sports clubs and social committees to charity work and different initiatives/groups, including the 'Female Futures' networking group. As well as these structured activities, there also seems to be a lot of social events arranged within offices/teams, such as fortnightly trips to the pub.
I would absolutely recommend this insight to a friend - I never thought that spending three weeks during summer working full time could be 'fun' but I have truly had the best experience and feel grateful to have been able to meet a bunch of amazing people who I am going to stay in touch with. The whole experience was great, from the quality of work (it's very rewarding doing 'real work' and seeing it getting used in client correspondence etc) to the social opportunities and the general atmosphere throughout the firm - everyone was so friendly and welcoming and it was lovely to really feel part of a team during my time there.
Insight / Vacation Scheme (< 4 Weeks)